Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★

Fred Hampton biopic by way of political thriller that leans on its outstanding cast to deliver a late-season Oscar contender. Kaluuya, Stenfield, and Plemons occupy the lead roles as Hampton, informant Bill O'Neal, and FBI agent Roy Mitchell respectively and each delivers the kind of performance I've come to expect from them (very good). The film smartly avoids the formulaic childhood to leader biopic classic and instead covers a snapshot from O'Neal's arrival to Hampton's death. I am not educated enough on the events as they actually happened to comment on accuracy or how much the politics are watered down but the way it's delivered here is damn entertaining. The constant danger of O'Neal's exposure or broader threats of police conspiracy and meeting with gangs ensures this never feels anything like a dry historical document. The key piece here though remains the performances and it's Kaluuya that emerges out of a trio of great ones with what may be career-best work from him. With any luck there are at least some nominations on the way for him and Stanfield.

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